Everybody listen up. I AM A CINEMA MAJOR, SO I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.
That’s not really how I feel, but unfortunately I think that is how most cinema majors behave when it comes to the topic of those talking pictures we call the movies.
In fact, of all the popular arts, I feel the movies represent the most intensely debated forms rivaled only by popular music. Why is this? Everybody watches movies. However, our interests in them are about as diverse as our personalities. Therefore, conflict arises.
But, is there truly a universal definition of a “good” movie? Is this defined by a flawless technical execution of making a film such as the lighting, editing, cinematography? Can a technically flawed movie contain moments of brilliant acting? Can a tremendously invigorating story be ruined by poor technical execution or bad acting? When all of these elements are considered satisfactory, can the general response of the public and critics alike remain unfavorable? All of these possibilities exist and more.
So, then, what is a “good” film? More directly, who is at liberty to determine a good film? While critics make a living reviewing the quality of films, it is not uncommon for a poorly reviewed film to enjoy a hefty profit at the box office. What is it about these films that critics find displeasing and the public so enjoyable?
Furthermore, what can explain each person’s wide variety of favorite films? Take myself, for example. My list of favorite films consists of a wide variety of types of films, ranging from artistic non-narrative films, to straightforward predictable comedies.
This is because I do not carry a specific set of criteria when it comes to my judgement of movies. There are many things to like or dislike about a movie. Admittedly, I favor films that entail a well strung plot and one that has characters that I can easily relate to. However, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a film simply for its aesthetic qualities even if it lacks a strong story.
So why is it so hard for everybody to agree on what a “good” movie is? In my opinion, the reason for this conflict of interest lies in the solitarily subjective experience that is watching a movie. Everybody, thankfully, has a different reaction to a film, be it positive or negative. We bring everything we carry in our lives with us when we sit down to watch a movie and it all directly effects our reaction to it. Maybe a childhood memory causes an emotional response that fails to affect your best friend and therefore creates a difference in opinion. Maybe special effects evoke a certain feeling that fails to resonate with others. Maybe the plot seems unbelievable to you, but beautifully romantic to your girlfriend. All of these possibilities exist, and should be respected.
This is why I make every attempt to reply to the question “is it a good movie?” with a statement of my personal enjoyment. Rather than impose a critical analysis (we can leave that to the professionals) maybe we should all respect each other’s opinions and leave it at that. “I liked it.” “I didn’t.” That’s it.
If we leave out the egotistical desire to hand judgement down upon creative artists and their work, we can once again return to the original appeal of the movies: enjoyment.
Oh, and for the record, Forrest Gump is a piece of garbage and if you like it I’m judging the crap out of you.